Rice University signs global virtual exchange agreement with 8 universities worldwide

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


B.J. Almond

Rice University signs global virtual exchange agreement with 8 universities worldwide

HOUSTON — (Dec. 5, 2017) — Rice University has signed an agreement with eight other elite universities around the world that will allow students from the participating schools to enroll in select online courses from the other member schools and receive transfer credits for them.

Each of the nine universities will select three to 10 of their existing credit-bearing online courses for the global virtual exchange agreement, which will be a three-year pilot program.

In addition to Rice University, the partnering universities are the Australian National University, the University of Adelaide and the University of Queensland, all in Australia; the Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and Wageningen University and Research, all in the Netherlands; the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland; and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in the People’s Republic of China. The agreement allows for an exchange of enrollments at no additional cost to students.

Rice is the first university in the U.S. to offer this kind of collaborative international learning environment to students.

“We see this as an opportunity for expanding Rice University’s international presence,” said Caroline Levander, Rice’s vice president for strategic initiatives and digital education. “Students can take classes overseas without having to physically relocate for a whole semester. The agreement leverages digital technology to create a very globally robust classroom in which students from some of the world’s best universities can study together.”

Because the global universities may offer courses that are not available at Rice, this partnership will enable Rice to expand its course offerings to students and provide students with unique international transfer credit opportunities. The partnership also will help incoming Rice graduate students strengthen their skills in a particular area if they need additional instruction.

“I’m particularly excited about the possibilities for Rice students,” said Rice registrar David Tenney. “While being enrolled full-time at Rice, our students will have available to them a slate of online for-credit courses from respected international universities that are taught in English and can be taken in addition to their required course load.”

Adria Baker, associate vice provost for international education and executive director of Rice’s Office of International Students and Scholars, noted another benefit of the exchange agreement: “This new endeavor introduces talented, prospective international students to our outstanding faculty while offering a new model of global learning.”

The online courses that will be approved for inclusion in the exchange agreement will be “as rigorous as the on-campus versions of the course,” Levander said. Students will have to take all the exams, complete all the assignments and undergo all the assessments required of students at the university offering the course.

“In order to consider integrating an online course from a different university into its own regular study program, each institution must trust that the course is of high quality and produced by a reliable partner they know and have worked with before,” said Anka Mulder, vice president for education and operations at the Delft University of Technology.

The pilot program will begin in January. Rice will initially offer some of its summer online courses as part of the catalog available to students in the exchange program.

When the pilot program is completed in 2020, Rice will review the data to assess the demand for the courses and how students responded to and benefited from them.

“If this program is of substantial value to our students, we will work on a long-term agreement,” Levander said.

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About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.